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Art collection of late bookmaker Barney Eastwood fetches over £14m

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Barney Eastwood.

Barney Eastwood.

Barney Eastwood.

An art collection that belonged to the late boxing promoter and bookmaker Barney Eastwood has been sold for over £14m at a London auction.

The collection went for a total of £14,187,750 for 30 pieces collected over 50 years, showing the late businessman’s great love of equestrian painting and Irish art. The auction took place at the prestigious Christie’s auction house, founded in 1766 and now with a physical presence in 46 countries, on July 9.

Parts of Mr Eastwood’s collection achieved more than double their pre-sale estimate, with The Vagabonds by Sir Alfred James Munnings fetching £1,942,500 at auction - originally expected to be sold for between £700,000 and £1 million.

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The Vagabonds by Sir Alfred James Munnings

The Vagabonds by Sir Alfred James Munnings

The Vagabonds by Sir Alfred James Munnings

There was also a new artist record for Paul Henry’s Mountain and Lake, Connemara, painted in 1934. It was expected to be sold for under £200,000, yet eventually went for £622,500.

Known to his friends as BJ, the multi-millionaire famous for masterminding the careers of boxing greats like Barry McGuigan died in March 2020 at the age of 87. The businessman sold his chain of 54 betting shops to rival Ladbrokes in 2008 for a deal worth £135m.

The collection represented Eastwood’s deep interest in equestrian painting and Irish art. The works for sale included paintings by renowned Irish artists Sir John Lavery and Jack Butler Yeats. as well as others by Walter Frederick Osborne, Sir William Orpen, Roderic O’Conor, Paul Henry and Gerard Dillon and 18th century sporting pictures.

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Eastwood had a passion for horse and greyhound racing and his eye for detail and the quality of art helped build the substantial store of works when he started a collection for his own enjoyment and that of his family in the mid 1970s.

In his earlier years a talented Gaelic football player and a member of the Co. Tyrone team which won the All Ireland Minor Championship in 1948, Eastwood’s interest in sport translated into a fascination with both sporting and Irish artists. Christie’s said over time, Eastwood built an “outstanding collection of the genres’ greatest examples” following the great art sales in the 1970s and 1980s.

The deputy chairman at Christie’s International Charles Cator said they were “delighted” by the result of the auction.

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A Summer Day by Jack Butler Yeats.

A Summer Day by Jack Butler Yeats.

A Summer Day by Jack Butler Yeats.

“We feel certain that BJ would be flattered by the enormous interest shown from collectors in his much prized and extraordinary collection of paintings which he so enjoyed throughout his life,” he said.

The deputy chairman of Old Master and British Paintings John Stainton and the head of Modern British and Irish Art Nicholas Orchard said the works rightly generated plenty of interest.

“Over 70% of works sold for over their high estimate, and demand was equally strong for the sporting and Irish pictures in the sale. Of particular note was the group of nine works by Munnings which were all very keenly competed for and Paul Henry, Mountains and Lake, Connemara which achieved a record for the artist today realising £622,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £120,000 – 180,000,” they said.


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